Andy Kindler on hack comics, his new CD and criticizing comedy from within
Andy Kindler is widely known for his recurring roles on Bob's Burgers and Everybody Loves Raymond, but he's revered among comedy nerds for his scathing State of the Industry addresses at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, which in the past has included gems such as "Adam Carolla is like Hitler if Hitler weren't funny." He's appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman close to forty times and has a prominent role on season two of IFC's Maron. Kindler is in town this week to headline Sex Pot comedy's six-month anniversary showcase at the Oriental Theater; the aptly titled Sex Pot American Summer also features Chuck Roy, Mara Wiles, Christie Buchele, Bobby Crane and host Jordan Doll. In advance of the Friday night show, Westword recently spoke with Kindler about how hackery has changed, his upcoming album release and criticizing comedy from within.
Westword: I know that the Montreal Just for Laughs festival is coming up, and that you usually do your annual State of the Industry speech there. It's usually a big to-do. How long has that been going on, and how did it come together?
Andy Kindler: It's been going on since 1996. That's a long time, I know. I went to my first Just for Laughs in '93. I'd written an article for National Lampoon in 1991 called "The Hack's Handbook," which stated and outlined how to be a bad comic, how to um, uh...
Appeal to the lowest common denominator?
Exactly. So it came up that I would do something like a demonstration of how to be a hack comic at the festival. And I got Patton Oswalt, Blaine Capatch and a lot of different comics from what they called the alternative scene in L.A. back then. And it went well, so he invited me back next year. My manager came up with the name State of the Industry and it was just one of those things. It just took off. Well, I don't know about took off. I'm not in the stratosphere.
Well, among comedy nerds, it's a big deal.
It became a tradition. It's always a very interesting situation because it's always new every year; I hopefully do a new hour. Well, I've shortened it a bit, actually. Some years I did an hour and fifteen minutes, an hour twenty, and that's no good. I've learned a lot of lessons over the years. At first, I could be very angry. Then I learned to lessen the anger, to make it more roast-like -- unless I'm going after somebody who really bothers me. Last year, I went after Adam Carolla. Last year was weird. I didn't get in trouble, but I got recognition --notoriety for going after Louis CK the year before last, but that was more of a roast where it's obvious that I respect him and I think he has talent. With the Carolla thing, it's not a roast because I think he really is engaging in hate speech.
Do you think that the drive to criticize comedy from within comes from wanting it to be better? I can be pretty critical myself, but it comes from love. I realize that's abusive step-dad logic.
Keep reading for more from Andy Kindler.